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The Inner Voicing Interest Group (Larry Hurst)

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Background: The idea for this embryonic group grew out of earlier experiments in vocal toning carried out by the Bodywork and Movement Special Interest section of the Focusing Institute at two international focusing conferences. The first was in 2005 in Toronto, Canada, when participants were invited to find a common energetic field of resonance in triads; with one member, the focuser, initiating whatever sound spontaneously arose in self–focusing while directing his/her companions’ hands to form cushions of contact at appropriate chakras; and with the companions then reflecting the sound in their own way. The second was in 2006 in the Netherlands when participants were invited to allow sound to emerge naturally through the breath while attuning, guided by the imagery of ocean waves. The combined experience encouraged the facilitator to embrace experiential vocal toning within the core of his own self–focusing process and, subsequently, as a participant at MAE, to offer to share it on a group basis in order to gain wider feedback and for all to experience the improvisational group dynamic.

Outline: In 3 meetings over the 3 days, our group stabilized at a total of 8 participants. We each experimented with the effect of granting ourselves permission, while self–focusing, to allow sounds – whatever their form – to emerge spontaneously from the inner depth of our felt senses. Physical movement and touch were neither ruled in nor out. Our aim was to find out how far we could benefit from the experience and whether there was anything we could convey to the MAE gathering as a whole.

We attempted, tentatively, to release ourselves from our inhibitions in order to enable three things:

  1. Allow internal sensations to become represented in ‘felt sound’: We variously found that such vocalization, free from all ‘languaging’ pre–requisites, was likely to manifest itself all the more unpredictably, ranging in extremes from a subtle stirring in the throat to an explosion of scary proportion.
  2. Experience our process without being drowned by the wildly diverse ‘white noise’ emanating from the group as a whole: These symphonic variations rarely manifested themselves harmoniously in the traditional brain–attenuated sense; rather more in grating–to–numbing dissonance relieved from time to time by rhythmic waves; relieved by periods of blessed silence out of which would grow an occasional plaintive song from within, forming and expressing and becoming re–absorbed at the very moment of being shared.
  3. Accommodate our environmental contributors: These ranged from the lyrical birdsong that accompanied part of our second session to the whoosh of Ascension Day rockets on the final morning and, most bizarre of all, a refrigerator motor on the first day whose intermittent rumbling labelled it immediately as a saboteur but which in due course was welcomed by most as just another unpredictable participant.

Outcome: At the close of our final session, words came hesitantly, then slowly, to describe individual experiences…“sound has been resonating through my very being in company with others”…“the symphony opened, proceeded and drew to its close in its own felt sense way, representing our relationship”…“partnership will enrich this process further”. We took ourselves to the MAE Closing Ceremony with the aim of offering a taste of our process and were thrilled by the willing participation of the whole gathering, giving us closure and a thirst for further exploration. Each member of the group agreed to provide a more considered feedback once back home. This was subsequently completed and here is the essence of each contribution:

  1. “Listening to the inner being, to the inner voice…resting there, just being the vibration…and then the source was there, the why of it, radiating…like seeing inwardly the light–vibrations of the sun…a wonder, and at the same time just as normal as daylight…a situation of being as one is meant to be”.
  2. “Today my focusing partner and I followed up on what is not feeling comfortable in me about producing sound. The initial felt sense was that of widespread constriction in my mouth, jaws, throat, along with nausea in my belly…a sense of habitual need to control or block sounds expressing emotions that others would not want to hear…along with sadness. With loving–kindness I kept company with all this (too challenging to have done in a group setting at this time). Much of it shifted: the tightness and nausea lessened, the throat opened and soft sighs and yawns emerged. Thank you to the sound group for becoming the potential catalyst for my process of tapping into my inner sound and allowing it to find free expression. Focusing will allow the process to continue.”
  3. “To me it was and still is about rising up in the air…I can feel the joy of being there and naming what one felt…the choir of all those voices in that vast dining room still feels very exciting.”
  4. “After two days of us all experimenting it got too loud and I had to flee the group…this helped me to come back again; and while we performed I sensed a growing centre among us and my body could vibrate within the sounds. I would have liked a beginning in smaller groups.”
  5. “I am used to singing in a very structured situation, confronted with parameters that limit a deeper expression of myself. When exploring in our group I had the possibility to touch all my resistances. I remember very well my felt sense in those moments and how it changed during the experience…the sense, freedom and pleasure of an inner self ‘being realized’. I have now re–discovered the pleasure of singing just for myself, without judgment…but the greatest thing was when I first got back to Rome…I performed 3 concerts and I was different, my body, my legs, the movement, the feeling inside me, something happened.”
  6. “I love to play with my voice, to welcome whatever comes, to be surprised about the unknown and give space for unfolding, often with dance or other movement…being part of a group means being a listener to my own inner and outer voicing and being in interaction with all I hear around me. The first day I would have liked to stay longer in stillness; thereafter I needed more focusing process because I had touched a place deep inside: I welcomed a subsequent walking exchange”.
  7. “What I felt most supporting was our experimental approach and the space of sensing resonation with others…also the privilege to be still and silent and receiving…the body shares what it experiences. It was amazing to note that my own sounds often evolved from a yawn, in German language meaning ‘empty space’ or ‘lying wide open’.”

Report from Larry Hurst:

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This page was last modified on 16 January 2008